REPORT: Public School District Holds Training Instructing White Teachers On How To ‘Bankrupt’ Their ‘Privilege’

(Photo by JENS SCHLUETER/AFP via Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
Font Size:

The largest public school district in Washington state is reportedly training white teachers to “bankrupt their privilege” by focusing on social justice in the classroom, Discovery Institute scholar Christopher Rufo reported.

A series of reportedly leaked documents shows what appears to be a training on critical race theory at Seattle Public Schools, prompting teachers to explain how they will promulgate racial justice in the classroom.

The slides begin by asking teachers to acknowledge that they are meeting on “the ancestral lands and traditional territories of the Puget Sound Coast Salish People,” which is followed by “Stolen Labor Acknowledgments” asking them to recognize that the U.S. was “built off the stolen labor of kidnapped African and enslaved Black people’s work, which created profits that created our nation,” according to Rufo.

“Brown labor” is continuing today, the slide adds, and includes workers picking “strawberries for your smoothies” in harsh conditions. The slide includes a “Black Lives Matter At School” graphic with a raised fist.

The “creative team” involved in the training then identify themselves by their pronouns and race. The individuals include teachers and other staff at Seattle Public Schools and someone from the “Department of Racial Equity Advancement,” which provides the school with racial equity analysis, professional development, and consultation and coaching, according to its website.

Another slide features author Zaretta Hammond, who has written a book entitled “Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain,” which guides teachers on interrupting “implicit bias” in the classroom so they can build trust with “diverse” students. The slide pulls a quote from the book that calls on teachers to “commit to the journey” by checking implicit biases. Another slide shows a quote from Hammond’s book describing how “your lizard-brain” will “freak out” when it’s time to talk about sensitive subjects like racism and sexism, a neurological mechanism that tries to keep people in their comfort zones.

The training then focuses on the theme of power that is held by white people. “We need to be mindful about power and privilege in racial relationships,” the slide reads. “Whiteness, the centrality of whiteness and the possession of white skin are assigned considerable power and privilege in our society.”

Because of this power, the trainers claim that the onus is on white people to build relationships, which “reflection and self-interrogation” are critical to. For marginalized people, the responsibility is to center “the importance of your feelings” and “take care of yourself.”

The training also pulls a quote from a blog post by writer Saeed Jones, which calls for non-black people to “bankrupt your privilege in acknowledgment of your thieved inheritance.”

The trainers then introduce the concept of “spirit murder,” first coined by Patricia Williams in 1987 to describe a “form of racial violence that steals and kills the humanity and spirits of people of color.” Education scholar Bettina Love applies the concept to the “slow death … built on racism” that happens in schools.

The teachers are then asked a series of questions probing their commitment to not only practicing anti-racism in the classroom, but outside of it.

“How are you anti-racist outside the classroom?” “In what ways are you practicing anti-racist pedagogy?” “How do you talk about the current social justice movements taking place?” “What are you willing to risk for racial justice as an educator?”

The Seattle Public Schools did not respond to a request for comment.

Rufo has revealed similar trainings inside public school districts and federal agencies, most recently reporting leaked documents showing a “white privilege” training at the San Diego Unified School Districts in California.

There are parallels between the two trainings. Like Seattle Public Schools, the San Diego district also began the training by prompting teachers to acknowledge they are meeting on “stolen land, taken from Indigenous people.” (RELATED: ‘You Are Upholding Racist Ideas’: Teachers Reportedly Required To Attend ‘White Privilege’ Training At Public School)

The training in San Diego also reportedly informs teachers that white people hold most of the country’s power, benefiting from advantages that non-white people don’t.